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Gaming Guru


The language of poker

9 January 2009

By Fred Renzey

Here we are in a major poker room watching a hot $50/$100 side game from a distance. Let's get up closer and hear what the players are saying as the hand unfolds.

Dealer; "Blinds please". The small and big blinds post their mandatory $25 and $50 bets and the cards are dealt. "Shoot it up!" says the fourth player as he tosses $100 into the pot. A couple of players fold and the seventh player calls the $100 saying, "Whatcha' so proud of over there, pocket Cowboys or somethin'?"

The flop comes down revealing

8d – 9s – Ad

The original raiser bets $50 and the the seventh seat says, "Be careful now, I'm straighnin', err, I'm flushin', err' I'm bluffin', err somethin'" as he calls.

The turn card is a 9. The first player bets $100 and says, "Call that if you hate money". The seventh seat picks up his chips and ponders while the fourth seat taunts, "Ain't no shame in muckin' 'em when you're beat". With that, the seventh seat calls saying, "See ya' at the river, Pops".

We're only part way through the first hand and we've already heard more than a half dozen slangs or other tidbits of poker jargon. But what does all this poker talk mean? Following are most of the terms you're likely to hear in a public poker room.


All In
When a player runs out of chips during the course of a hand, the size of the pot is "frozen" at that point, and all future bets for that hand go into a "side-pot". The "all-in" player is still alive and continues to receive cards, but can only win the main pot to which he has contributed fully. The next best hand wins the money in the side-pot.

In stud-type games, a small bet must be put up by each player to entitle him to receive his initial starting hand.

In Hi/Lo split games, a low card of Ace through 5, which can make a good low hand or a low straight.

Bad Beat
Losing a hand that you were likely to win earlier on.

A perfect low hand of A-2-3-4-5, also known as a "wheel".

In flop-type games, such as Hold'em or Omaha, there is no ante. Instead, the first two players to act must put in one bet each before being dealt any cards. Player #1's bet is less than that of player #2. Thus, player #1 is called the "small" blind and player #2 is the "big" blind".

Big Slick
A starting hand of Ace/King in the hole in Texas Hold'em poker.

In flop-type games, a white puck is rotated around the table one hand at a time to determine who will be the blinds and therefore act first.

Calling Station
A person who plays very loosely and passively by almost never raising or folding, but almost always checking and calling.

To intitially check when it's your turn to act, then raise after someone else bets into you.


Drawing Dead
Playing a hand that cannot win even if you catch your best possible card.

Double Belly Buster
A double-end inside straight draw, such as having 4/6/7/8/10 with more cards yet to come. Any 5 or 9 will make you a straight.

Family Pot
One in which every player at the table is still in the hand.

In Hold'em or Omaha, 3 community cards that are turned up in the center of the table, to be used by all.

In Hi/Lo split games, having an automatic winner for one end of the pot while still being in the hunt for the other end.

Gut Shot
An inside straight draw, such as 5/6/8/9.

The side card to your pair. A hand of 10/10/K beats a hand of 10/10/J by virtue of a higher "kicker".

To fold your hand. Also, the dead face-down cards in the center of the table.

The Nuts
A holding that cannot be beaten in this particular hand. Such as having the A/10 of hearts in Hold'em when the final board is 2/5/7/J/K with three hearts.

Your hole cards.

Pot Odds
The odds the pot is offering you compared to the cost of a call (e.g., when the pot contains $100 and the bet is $20, you're getting 5-to-1 pot odds).

The last card of a poker hand.

A very tight player who plays few hands.

In flop games, having a pair in the hole with a matching card on board to make you three of a kind.

Four of a kind.

A/2/3/4/5, which constitutes a perfect low and a 5 high straight at the same time.
Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

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